Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hubbard Leads New Hampton Past Exeter in OT Thriller

Even if you have a quiet 1st half, star players are supposed to come up big when it matters most. That's exactly what New Hampton senior forward Shayla Hubbard (Laconia, NH) did on Wednesday afternoon vs. Phillips Exeter.

Hubbard (who will be playing basketball for Assumption College next year) scored 15 of her team-high 17 points in the 2nd half / overtime. She also pulled down 11 rebounds, as the Huskies defeated Exeter 57-53 in OT.

New Hampton won despite a sensational individual performance by Exeter's junior point guard Nicole Heavirland. Heavirland was simply unconscious, pouring in a game-high 31 points. She's from Montana, so I'm not going to write too much about her, but man can she play. Heavirland has a killer pull-up jumper that she can hit from anywhere, and a college-ready frame.

Emily Cuthbertson (Hudson, NH) drilled a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing to give New Hampton a 49-47 lead. Heavirland answered right back with a 15-footer to knot the score at 49-49 with 30 seconds left. Neither team was able to score at the end and we went to overtime. That's where Hubbard really took over, scoring 7 points in the extra session to lead her team to the win.

The game was played at a fast pace and with good intensity by both teams, especially down the stretch. New Hampton led for virtually the entire game. They led by as many as 9 points, when it was 26-17 following a pir of quick buckets by Hubbard early in the 2nd half. So for Exeter to come back from down 9 in the 2nd half and force overtime is impressive.

They were able to get back in the game as Heavirland started to really heat up with the mid-range pull-up jumpers. Then sophomore guard Courtney Henrich (Candia, NH) hit a 3-pointer. That completed a 12-6 Exeter run, and just like that they were right back in the game with New Hampton now leading 32-29.

The Huskies were able to maintain the lead though, as 6-foot-3 senior forward Egle Zelnyte (Lithuania) started to dominate. She was scoring inside, grabbing boards, and also hitting the mid-range jumper. Zelnye is very agile for a bigger player, and finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. She hit a jumper to put New Hampton up 40-35 with 7:38 left in the game.

Heavirland continued her strong play to keep Exeter in it though, drilling a 3-pointer to tie the game up 42-42 with 3:42 left.

Hubbard answered back though, coming up with a number of clutch inside baskets and rebounds down the stretch.

Gabriella Wozniak (from VT) gave the Big Red their first lead since the game's opening minutes by hitting an 18-footer on the baseline to make it 47-46 with 1:12 left. That's when Cuthbertson hit her big three to put the Huskies back on top.

In overtime New Hampton ran their 'money play' - posting Hubbard up in the lane, not on the right or left block, just in between the two of them where she always seemed to be open. Hubbard caught the ball in traffic, turned and laid it in. This play always seemed to work for Coach Petkus.

New Hampton then ran the same play, but this time Hubbard made an and-1 finish to make it 55-52. Exeter started firing threes, and Henrich just barely missed on one of them late. Hubbard then scored again, this time off of an offensive rebound. That sealed the win for New Hampton.

The Huskies once again have a strong team, even though they graduated four scholarship players off last year's team. They are Madeline Blais (Marist), Samantha Brenner (Vermont), Lizzy Ball (Fairfield) and Melissa Frase (UMass Lowell).

With those starts gone, New Hampton now has a younger team. Two freshmen (both local kids) started and played significant time in today's game. They are 5-foot-6 guard Hannah Cuthbertson and 6-foot-1 forward Maria Draper. Draper contributed 6 points and 5 rebounds in thw win.

Exeter was playing without standout freshman Burabari 'Peace' Kabari, who is currently out of the lineup due to illness. She is undergoing tests for an irregular heartbeat. Health is the most important thing, best of luck to Peace. She is a fun player to watch, and here's to hoping she is okay and will be back on the court soon.

Picking up some of the slack with Kabari out was Yvonne Dean-Bailey (Northwood, NH), a 5-foot-9 wing who scored 10 points, including three 3-pointers. Exeter is a tough team right now but they will be even better next year. Heavirland is only a junior (which is a scary thought because she is REALLY good), Kabari is only a freshman, Henrich is a sophomore, Dean-Bailey is a junior and Susanna Gray (an atheltic forward from Maine who also played well) is also only a junior. This will be a scary team next year for sure.

Hubbard Commits to Assumption
Shayla Hubbard recently committed to attend and play basketball at Assumption College. Assumption is a Division II program that competes in the Northeast-10 Conference. Hubbard is in her second season at New Hampton after transferring from Laconia High. When she transferred she reclassified from the Class of 2012 to 2013. Assumption is located in western Massachusetts.

"She has improved tremendously since the last year" said New Hampton head coach Freddy Petkus. "One thing that people don't know about her, is that she played with a stress fracture the entire last season. That is one of the reasons she did not play at all all summer and did not get more recognition. However, I think Assumption is the perfect place for her, where she will excel academically and athletically! She is inspired to become a doctor."

In addition to starting for New Hampton last season alongside those other four aforementioned scholarship players, Hubbard also played on two very talented NE Shooting Stars teams in 2010 and 2011. She played for coach Dennis Reed, and was teammates with the likes of Nicole Boudreau (Boston College), Katie Vareika (Dartmouth), Jane White (Bentley) and Lia Nawn (Merrimack College).

"Shayla was my first recruit at New Hampton, since I took the girls program over" Coach Petkus explained. "I could not be happier with what I received in return. She has been our leader on and off the floor. Shayla's versatility on the court gives other teams match up nightmares. She can guard anyone on the floor, 1 through 5. She can also play all 5 spots on offense! She works very hard in the gym to get better and better, leads my young girls by example."

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